Previewing OHSAA Division III State Championships

The 2023 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships are scheduled for Saturday, November 4th at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park. 

The final edition of our state meet preview series focuses on teams and individuals from Division III. The girls will kick-off the day's action at 10:00 am and the boys are appointed a 10:45 am start time. 


State Meet Information

State Meet Entries I State Meet Predictions

Speed Ratings Projections

Division I Preview I Division II Preview

Girls Teams

Seeking their third consecutive team title, Minster heads to Obetz on Saturday as the significant favorite in Division III. 

The historical body of work on behalf of the Wildcats program is simply staggering. They've hoisted state meet gold 14-times dating back to 1999 and also have four runner-up finishes to their credit during that time span. 

The 2023 squad has been locked-in from the word go this season. Securing their first victory at Bob Schul back in August against traditional divisional competition, they then opted to move up in classification at several invitationals this fall to take a crack at the bigger schools. Those efforts proved to be worthwhile. 

A win in the Varsity Division I contest at the Tiffin Carnival and perhaps their best performance at Saturday Night Lights, where they more than held their own against national level teams in the form of Ann Arbor Pioneer and Hilliard Davidson en route to a 3rd place finish set the tone for the Wildcats' postseason run. 

Champions at Region 10 last weekend with 48-points and a 77-point margin of victory coupled with their No. 1 standing in the coaches poll (securing all available 1st place votes) and being stationed at the top of the charts within the MileSplit rankings further cements them as clearly being the team-to-beat. 

Minster holds a team average of 19:02.87 (when calculating their season's bests) and are frequently led up front by Chaney Cedarleaf, who set her all-time PR of 18:33.9 in a 2nd place individual showing at Tiffin Region 10. 

If an upset was to be sprung on Minster, the most likely candidate would be a team qualifying through Troy Region 12. 

Arguably the best Division III race from last weekend saw West Liberty-Salem edge Fort Loramie and Madeira in that order for regional honors by a 64-76-76 tally. With only three qualification spots available at Troy, moving on to Obetz was a monumental task and it left a high quality Botkins group in fourth and settling to advance only their top individuals. 

The most recent coaches poll release (pre-state) has West Liberty-Salem at No. 2, Fort Loramie at No. 3 and Madeira in the sixth spot. 

Notably the last non Northwest Ohio entry to win at State was West-Liberty Salem, the champions of 2020.

Boys Teams

Perhaps not a favorite to the degree of Minster on the girls side, but a favorite nonetheless is Region 11 champions Mount Gilead

They rolled at Pickerington going 1-3-8-24-25 for 61-points, more than doubling up their nearest competition from Fredericktown (136-points). 

The Indians are the reigning OHSAA champions and they make a strong case to be a repeat winning squad. 

Sweeping the first place votes in the latest coaches poll and residing at the top of the MileSplit standings, Mount Gilead is led up front by Will Baker and Parker Bartlett

Ranked second in Division III at 15:17.0, Baker, a junior, figures to also contend for the individual title. Senior classman Bartlett was 6th at Pickerington and holds a 2023 season's best mark of 15:45.18 from Denny Stevens. 

The team boasts a sleek 16:12.63 average when compiling their fastest finishing times throughout the fall. 

Decisive wins at Region 12 and Region 9 have West Liberty-Salem and Maplewood in strong position heading into Saturday's competition. 

The Tigers produced a 61-point effort on the heels of a 16:18.5 6th place mark by junior Asher Knox. The team displayed a balanced 5-11-14-15-16 attack en route to earning their regional crown. 

The Rockets scored an equally impressive victory at Youngstown, posting 42-points to more than double-up 2nd place Mineral Ridge (90-points).

Senior Alex Donaldson fueled the charge for their 3-7-8-11-13 showing. Donaldson, who went 16:47.5 on the demanding Boardman course, is a top-15 ranked DIII runner via his 15:49.52 season's best mark.

Girls Individuals

A pair of former state champions are set to square off with reigning titleist Paige Steinke seeking a repeat, a task that would require holding off 2020-2021 back-to-back champion Caleigh Richards in the process. 

Steinke, an Anna senior, has won 5-times this season and holds a 2023 best mark of 18:36.37. She claimed state meet gold last year at Obetz with a 17:46.1 clocking. 

Maplewood's Richards burst onto the high school scene in 2020 winning State as a freshman and then duplicating that effort as sophomore. Third at Obetz a year ago, the Youngstown State commit would put herself in very exclusive company if she was to attain a third individual state title. Company that would include, at the Division III level, the great Sunni Olding, Minster, who won in 2000 and then went back-to-back in '02-'03. 

Region 10 winner Reese Landis and Region 9 runner-up Rebecca Geiss make strong cases that there will be a first time state winner on Saturday. 

Landis, a New London senior, has run the table this fall winning all of her seven race starts. A pair of sub-18 performances (17:52.0 at Galion and 17:59.7 at Tiffin Region 10) highlight her formidable 2023 resume. 

A model of consistency throughout the fall, in ten outings, Geiss has placed first or runner-up on every occasion (including five wins). 

At Youngstown, the Heartland Christian sophomore gave the aforementioned Richards a great challenge, trailing to the line by only 9-seconds to secure the second spot. She's gone under 18:30 four times this fall and owns a personal best mark of 18:09.6 from Legends.

Boys Individuals

A highly uncommon feat for a freshman boy, Luke Snyder gave the experienced senior Brylan Holland from East Canton all he could handle at last year's state meet. The now Malone University representative Holland prevailed breaking the tape in 15:41.7 with Snyder, impressively, only 9-seconds behind at 15:50.8. 

Any potential sophomore jinx for Rittman's Snyder would prove to be nothing but a myth. He's been on point during every start this season, winning four times and securing two seconds, a fourth and an eighth, as well. His 8th place finish at Trinity/Valkyrie was his best effort, where he mixed it up with a barrage of nationally credentialed runners. 

His 15:02.3 mark from Wooster stations at the top of the state's Division III charts. 

The aforementioned Will Baker plus Region 12 and Region 11 champions Asher Long and Landen Eyre are amongst the top candidates to stand in Snyder's way. 

Baker, first and foremost, has the team pursuit in mind, but he can lean on a wealth of top individual battles he's engaged in over the years as experience that may pay dividends. He was 10th last year at State. 

Covington's Long has finished no lower than second in any of his nine contests this year. Five wins and a PR mark of 15:26.65 helps to showcase what he brings to the table. 

Eyre, a junior from Whiteoak, has claimed seven victories this fall with a 15:28.11 clocking at Unioto being his fastest finish.

Article Reference Resources

MileSplit Rankings I MileSplit XC Team Scores

OHSAA Cross Country History I OATCCC Coaches Polls